Essay on Wharton's Ethan Frome: A Psychological Novel

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Ethan Frome as A Psychological Novel Many authors have tried to convey truths about human behavior and explain the human psyche, often unsuccessfully. Edith Wharton's novel, Ethan Frome, is an example of a novel that succeeds in revealing truths. She fills her characters with nuances that reflect the subconscious and her setting is alive with reflected symbolism. She is able to interpret the characters actions in a way that can relate to all humans. Each word and phrase seems to be chosen so that it reflects a part of the subconscious in the characters. Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome is an examination of the human mind, based on her use of setting to reflect emotion, characterization to show human tendencies towards chaos and other psychological aspects of the human mind. In Ethan Frome, Wharton uses the setting to show the feelings and psychology of the characters. Because the tone of the novel is somber and the characters suffer greatly, Wharton used the gothic technique of matching the scenery to the characters emotions. The principal setting of the novel is Starkfield, which is a small farming based community. The houses are mostly several miles from the "center" of town. Richard Worth, a literary critic, says of Starkville, "...even the name suggests utter desolation" (64). The name of the town gives the initial impression of the mindset of the characters: hopelessness. "The New England winter... the physical landscape can reinforce psychic tensions oppressing the people in the community" (McDowell 85). The narrator, Harmon Gow, describes the setting and says, "...the winter set down on Starkfield, and the village lay under a sheet of snow, perpetually renewed from the pale skies"(7). During the entirety of the... ... middle of paper ... is a timeless classic that subtly and creatively lets readers understand the hidden depths of the human mind through psychological aspects present in the novel. Bibliography Bell, Millicent. The Cambridge Companion to Edith Wharton. New York: Cambridge .....University Press, 1995. Fedorko, Kathy. Gender and the Gothic in the Fiction of Edith Wharton. Tuscaloosa: .....University of Alabama Press, 1995. Goodwyn, Janet Patricia. Edith Wharton: Traveler in the Land of Letters. New York: .....St. Martin's Press, 1990. McDowell, Margaret. Edith Wharton: Revised Edition. Boston: G.K. Hall and .....Company, 1991 Springer, Marlene. Ethan Frome: A Nightmare of Need. New York: Twayne .....Publishers, 1993. Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome. New York: Penguin Group, 1993. Worth, Richard. Edith Wharton. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.

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